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Niagara County obtains party status in wind turbine fight

LOCKPORT – Niagara County Public Health Director Daniel J. Stapleton has told the county Board of Health that the county Health Department has obtained “party status” from the state Public Service Commission regarding the Lighthouse Wind project.

That’s a proposal to build up to 70 wind turbines, proposed by Apex Clean Energy of Charlottesville, Va., for Somerset and the neighboring Town of Yates in Orleans County.

Opponents seem to be in the majority in both towns, judging by surveys of property owners, but a siting board controlled by Albany will make the final decision.

The Board of Health asked the PSC for a full environmental review before the turbines go up, but the PSC said those issues have to hashed out before the siting board. Party status means the Health Department receives copies of all new documents filed in the case.

“We’re worried about a cumulative effect of turbines,” Stapleton told the board. “The hardest part about this process is not having the details on what they’re proposing.

Apex doesn’t have to reveal the exact locations or heights of its turbines until it files its final application with the PSC, which the company said is likely to happen this summer.